April 2020 — pg. 24
No Longer Slaves
We tend to think more about God’s saving grace in forgiving
us and far less about why sanctifying grace is so necessary.
!is leads to Romans 6 and the second analogy — the
Many of us are aware that Abraham Lincoln signed the
Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in Confederateheld
territory on New Year’s Day of 1863. What is less known
is that it took a long time before the proclamation became a
reality. Many remained slaves a#er January 1. Some slaves did
not hear about the proclamation for months. When others
heard about it, they did not believe it because being a slave was
all they ever knew. Slave owners used fear and intimidation to
keep many slaves on the plantations.
Romans 6 is what I call the Christian’s Emancipation
Proclamation. In it, Paul shows how God gives us the ability to
live holy lives through Christ’s death and resurrection. God’s
grace does not just save us from the penalty of sin, but from
the power of sin as well. How many Christians today are living
in bondage to their sin because they don’t know their freedom
is a reality?
One of the $rst verses I learned as a new Christian was 1
John 1:9. God promises to forgive us when we confess our
sins. But why don’t we also teach new believers that God has
given us victory over our sin nature? Romans 6:3–4 says,
“Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ
Jesus were baptized into his death … just as Christ was raised
from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live
a new life.”
Or how about Romans 6:6? “For we know that our old self
was cruci$ed with him so that the body ruled by sin (the part
that still wants to eat the cookie) might be done away with,
that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”
As we baptize new believers, we ought to tell them
how baptism is a picture of our acceptance of His o"er of
forgiveness through His death and His o"er of holy living
through His resurrection.
However, knowing we are free is just the $rst step. We
still have to walk o" the plantation. Just as some slaves were
convinced by their owners they were not free, we too have a
slave owner, Satan, who convinces us we are not free. It is easy
to believe that lie when we have struggled with a certain habit
for so long. We believe bondage is just a part of who we are.
!at is why I believe Paul tells us in Romans 6:11, “In the same
way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ
Jesus.” Everything we need to overcome those sinful habits has
already been given to us!
Finally, Paul tells us to “o"er ourselves to God” because we
have been set free from sin. When we accept God’s o"er of
sanctifying grace, “the bene$t you reap leads to holiness, and
the result is eternal life” (Romans 6:22). Usually, Romans 6:23
is mentioned in the context of salvation, but it comes at the
end of this section where Paul is talking about sancti$cation.
!e gi# of eternal life is much more than just life in heaven. It
is the ability to live holy right now. God wants to give us the
gi# of holiness because He loves us and considers it a blessing.
What a sad thing it is to think that in 1863, thousands of
slaves were legally free but remained on their plantations. Let
it not said be said of Christians in the 21st century that we
remained on the plantation of sin instead of living sancti$ed
Discuss this article in our
Facebook group at
P.J. Kitchen has taught at Spring Arbor
University for the past 10 years. Kitchen, a
graduate of Grand Rapids $eological Seminary,
also teaches at Cornerstone University. He
previously served in local church ministry
as a youth minister for 20 years and led a
network of area youth pastors for four years.
“... knowing we are free
is just the first step. We
still have to walk off the